This Star Wars: The Bad Batch review contains spoilers.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch Episode 2
It’s still too early to tell what exactly Omega, the newest member of the Bad Batch, is thinking. But her presence in the squad powers the stakes of an effective, low-key second episode.
In “Cut and Run,” we return to characters from a single The Clone Wars episode (deserter clone Cut, his wife Suu, and their children). While the A-plot about helping the family leave the planet is neat enough, the episode’s real strength is the way it shows the quick transition to Imperial rule.
After going on the run from the Empire, the Batch seek help from someone who knows how to live outside the war: Cut. He’s trying to get off-planet to move farther from the Empire, but there’s a new problem. The regime has instituted chain codes (remember that from The Mandalorian?) for every citizen. You have to have one to travel, and if Cut goes about it the legal way he’ll be arrested for being a deserter. Meanwhile, Omega sees a planet that isn’t the clinical water world of Kamino for the first time.
If you haven’t seen The Clone Wars, does the concept of a deserter clone work as well here? Maybe not. There’s the pathos of a soldier settling down, but most of the drama of Cut’s choice was already used in the previous show. It’s also a bit jarring that we never saw the Batch and Cut’s family meet before. The kids call Wrecker “uncle,” but we never saw how they met. Now, not every moment of their lives has to be on screen for me to believe they met at one point during the long years of the war, but I had to go back and check whether I’d missed something.
That said, I love Cut’s family, actually. The power of seeing a free clone finding a home outside the war is strong. It’s also just visually fun to see a human-alien pair with some half-alien kids. And it’s cute and sweet to see Omega play with kids her own age, to be accepted so easily by them since they don’t see many other children their own age. Where she was mostly a background character in The Clone Wars, Suu now gets a bit more to do and say. Overall, the characters spend a nice amount of time talking to one another. However unexplained, the friendship between Hunter, Cut, and Suu feels warm and convincing. The avuncular relationship between the Batch and Omega is solidifying too, if slowly.
The family also presents a choice for Omega: flee with people who already know how to be parents, or remain adrift with the messy Batch? I’m still operating on the assumption that she likes them at least in part because they’re also extra-modified clones. (Cut is a regular clone, but he wasn’t around to hear the Order 66 activation phrase.) Her choice is made more meaningful because we’re beginning to see the reality of her upbringing: she doesn’t understand how to play. I love how she marvels over grass and dirt. But The Bad Batch still hasn’t provided one solid, evocative moment to show why she wants what she wants. Ezra Bridger, the audience-surrogate kid from Rebels, was clearly lonely in a way we haven’t seen from Omega.
Other fun things about the world-building in this episode were the creatures and the tech. After the premiere, I wanted to see the practical problems of what clones do after the war. Some of them are on display right here as one of the troopers almost recognizes Cut. Our heroes see here that the war being over was actually a lie to install Imperial rule. That line of thinking seems to set up an odd equation (was the war against the Separatists better?), but I already discussed this after the first episode, and the show simply isn’t interested in critiquing what the Republic had become under Palpatine‘s machinations.
We also return to that classic Star Wars situation in which someone has to run through extremely dangerous territory to retrieve an analog device (see Rogue One). The idea of the chain codes being on physical fobs, and that being a problem, is charmingly retro in that way Star Wars has felt for the last twenty years or so. Overall, the world-building feels like it’s connecting the dots in an organic way. Sometimes it seems like everything has happened too fast, though: when did they have time to build a chain code system? Or those information booths?
The back quarter drags a bit as an action scene swaps between trying to get the chain codes and then trying to get out of the Imperial-occupied area fast. On the one hand, Omega’s presence being the stakes of the episode means it isn’t surprising what happens: she’s been in all the ads, after all. On the other, I do like to see the lengths she’s willing to go to make her decision. She’s cute without being cloyingly sweet, competent without being an untouchable action hero. Even if her reasoning (“I left Kamino with you”) does sound a bit like a sunk cost. Kids get attached to people. But I do wonder how her enthusiasm will age, both in terms of fan reception and where the character will go next.
The Bad Batch isn’t at all hiding that it wants to be a continuation of The Clone Wars. Fans looking for something new, or easily accessible, probably won’t find it here. The show often seems to be working for me on the strength of what it isn’t doing: it’s not one-note, it’s not silly, it’s not changing a major aspect of existing canon (except, perhaps, for Kanan. Sorry, Kanan.) It doesn’t feel complete, either: not unless I’m extending a hand half-way out of fondness for Cut’s family.